The art awards scheme for offenders, secure patients and detainees

We’re the UK’s best-known prison arts charity. We’ve been awarding, exhibiting and selling artworks by offenders, detainees and secure patients for over 50 years.

Our awards receive over 8,000 entries a year – inspiring offenders to take part in the arts, work for achievement and transform their lives. Our national exhibition attracts 20,000 visitors – showing the public the talent and potential of offenders and people in secure settings.

We have no endowment or capital – our work depends entirely on donations.

Read more about us

Discombobulated, Heatherwood Court Hospital, Mixed Media, 2016

2017 Awards

The deadline for the 2017 Koestler Awards is 14 April 2017.

The 2017 Awards will include 51 categories judged by experts including Bob and Roberta Smith, Emma Bridgewater, Philharmonia Chorus and Hot Chip.

Unlike other years, we already know the theme of the 2017 UK Koestler Exhibition for which all 2017 Koestler Awards entries are eligible for selection. Antony Gormley will curate the show with the theme ‘Inside’ in mind. So, if you’re looking for inspiration, try thinking of what ‘Inside’ might mean to you. Antony has provided some exercises you can use as a starting point if you like. You can, of course, still submit entries on other themes to the 2017 Awards.

Find out more about this year’s exhibition, and how you can take part in shaping it, here.

> download the 2017 Koestler Awards Entry Form.
> download the 2017 Guidance Notes.

Entry Forms and Guidance Notes for the 2017 Koestler Awards will also be mailed to contacts in prisons, secure hospitals, immigration centres and community justice settings in early January.

If you’d like to receive the entry packs please contact us on


Koestler Week: 6 – 12 March 2017

During Koestler Week we’ll be celebrating the Koestler Awards with more establishment visits, posters and flyers, as well as resources to inspire participation. Koestler Week is a great time for people to get involved in promoting the Awards to new entrants, and to start thinking about the entries they would like to submit before the deadline on 14 April.

> download the Koestler Awards presentation here.